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What those thieving chimpanzees can ;) teach us about the difference between them and us … maybe

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We are divided between giving you philosopher-photographer Laszlo Bencze’s reflection on  greedy chimpanzee behavior, as featured in this story, just below, and offering you a boarding house joke from the Great Depression.

Ah, a solution! We shall do both. First, Bencze observes,

The article concludes:

“If fairness considerations are important for cooperative activities such as trading goods and services and sharing, the question then is, when did they evolve in our species? And if fairness is important only in humans, the question is why only in humans?”

So how might fairness have evolved amongst some ancient human ancestors, all of who were selfish? The individual endowed with the “fairness gene” would diligently share food with his peers. Meanwhile they would take all the food they could get and pay no regard to the sharing individual. The sharing individual would gain neither status, nor calories, nor reproductive primacy by his sharing and would only have less to eat. In fact, an individual so endowed would be far less likely to reproduce and pass on his sharing gene. Hence, the trait could never establish itself. It would be eliminated.

It’s interesting that the humanness of sharing is so blandly accepted by these authors as an “evolved trait” when just a bit of thought establishes the impossibility of the enterprise.

Hmm.  among humans, sharing is considered civilized and good, and not sharing is considered uncivilized and bad. So you must be careful if you plan to be uncivilized and bad.

Oh, yes, about that Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan (Canada), boardinghouse in the worst of 1933:

There were six boarders.

Mrs. Murphy, landlady, had slaughtered a pig that morning. That night she plunked seven thick, fat pork chops on the meat plate on the table. Each boarder took one.

But wouldn’t you know, Mrs. Murphy had forgot to put kerosene in the lamp, and it failed.

Out of the pitch darkness, came a horrific scream.

When she got the lamp lit again, there were five forks sticking out of one boarder’s hand …

Mrs. Murphy said, “By rights, I should call the Mountie! But better we just pull the forks out and soak his hand in whiskey, and he’ll doubtless be okay. No names, no pack drill.”

They say that guy was okay. But way smarter thereafter.

Chimps can’t be good, so they don’t go bad. Can’t say the same for people.

Photo credits: © namatae / Fotolia

"It’s interesting that the humanness of sharing is so blandly accepted by these authors as an “evolved trait” when just a bit of thought establishes the impossibility of the enterprise." Well, give 'em credit for trying anyway. Evolution sounds plausible until you look at the nitty gritty details. Actually, I wonder if it would be possible to do an experiment to check out their hypothesis. I actually think that sometimes the good would win out, but not because we are evolved monkeys, but because we are created beings in God's image who have consciences that tell us what is right and wrong. Of course we are all basically selfish, but still depending on who is chosen for as experimental subjects, the good might win out. tjguy

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